February is the briefest month, but it seems to be the longest as winter drags on. For me, this February has been a month of celebrations and renewing friendships, busyness and boredom sheepishly slinking away.
As of February 5th my sister Jean is still ten years younger than I am. Our favorite son-in-law Heath the electrician had a birthday, and our son Joel and daughter-in-law Tracy observed their wedding day, held in 1999 on the beaches of Hawaii on Valentine’s Day. We joined in on the celebration of the 66th birthday and retirement from 42 dedicated years of employment at Herff Jones of long-time friend Charlie Schultz. Such occasions do age us, as we realize we’re all in the same recliner and plus size jeans and sweatshirts.
On a welcomed warmer winter day, our neighbor’s yard drew my delighted attention during morning tea. A sun-dazzled snow family appeared to greet all who drove by or glanced in their direction, decked out in knit caps, mittens, and scarves, the daddy figure holding a snow shovel by his twig arm. A miniature shape huddles against its rotund snowmom.
Sheila and Ron Spitzer’s two children and her daycare crew shrieked and romped in “finally nicer” weather, the blur of their colorful outdoor gear and muffled, commingling voices bringing a grin to my housebound disposition.
The following day I noted a contrast of telltale impressions as I peered out. Boot prints inscribe Spitzer’s entire front yard with life, while ours stares back, empty and unadorned. I recall hollow, sloping snow forts there, and children’s brisk banter through wind-swept hours.
Now silenced and serenely void of youthful energy, our living room windows seem bare and deserted to peace and quiet. Yet, I cherish those busy days, looking back now, swift, rosy-cheeked hugs, hot chocolate steaming, and boots and mittens drying at our wood-burning fireplace. Cozy blanket forts in flickering shadows kept us safe from swirling snow and chitchat frozen to slumbering lips.
“Getting together for tea” and “doing lunch” does happen! Kateri Mueller and I met at the Blue Heron for a long awaited teatime. An hour magically flew by as we caught up on each other’s lives. Recalling what Kateri and my late Aunt Ellen had meant to each other always warms my heart and makes me sad that it ended so soon. It was Kateri who introduced me to the Down & Dirty Bike Club when it was located on Third Street before the fire. It didn’t dampen spirits of the youthful entrepreneurs! Here’s hoping they can reopen in a new location soon.
It’s a pleasant surprise to find another person with whom you have a great deal in common. Sharing our penchant for writing, Nancy Overcott and I have been corresponding for about 10 years, from the first time I read her column in the Fillmore County Journal. I met Nancy at a book signing for her first of three published works. “At Home In the Big Woods,” is all about life in a Southeastern MN forest, in the house she and her husband built together before moving to Preston recently.
Our promise to meet one day for brunch finally took wings in February. Nan and I exchanged books and chatted so long that lunchtime in the Rushford restaurant came and went all around our conversation, with so much more to say – another time promised.
The absolute highlight of the month was celebrating the 90th birthday of my Aunt Alma Wollin, the last member of her family remaining in these parts. Like a mother to me, cheery and gracious, she never complains. Our visits are always intertwined with laughter and warm recollections. I would doubt that anyone could outdo her at mastering crossword puzzles. Her tiny namesake, the baby girl of her great nephew Paul Schultz, has touched her heart…just as Alma has inspired so many throughout her years.
There’s no time to waste. Life is now! Snow people melt and disappear. Honor what is real…what is genuine.
Janet Burns grew up in Lewiston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.